The Hedge, set in early New England, is the story of an intelligent young governor's wife who is repressed by the severe attitudes of the Puritans, to the point where she withdraws from society, and is considered to have lost her mind. Anne Yale Hopkins comes to Hartford, Connecticut in 1638, delighted to have escaped the household of her stepfather Theophilus Eaton, a rigorous Puritan, by marrying Edward, who becomes governor of Hartford. She is a voracious reader, and has written several books. She can hardly wait to make a fresh start in a new land. Her first enthusiastic impressions of the community gradually change as she comes up against the rigidity and judgmentalism of some of the Puritans. Her strong reactions to their behaviour and ideas cause the community to think she is growing "distracted. " A number of events contribute to her decline: the unwarranted punishment of one of her Native friends, her mother's trial for heresy, the execution of King Charles, and the loss of two her three confidantes: Nellie, her maid,and David, her brother, who returns to England. She corresponds cautiously with her beloved cousin Jane in London, but Jane's letters arrive infrequently. With the death of one good Hartford friend, and the departure of the other, she withdraws even more. Edward's friends advise taking away her books and paper, because they say her brain is overloaded, and that is why she is behaving so oddly. She is devastated, hides her journal and keeps writing. Throughout the story, certain incidents bring up flashes of lost memory. Finally, during her pregnancy, a crucial buried memory is uncovered, and the process of facing a new reality begins.
"This elegant novel recounts the passage of a sensitive and gifted woman of the seventeeth century from Puritan England to Connecticut. Anne McPherson narrates her struggle for identity with a fine ear for the dilemmas of creative women past and present. This is a worthy reconstruction of the life of a woman of worth. " --Margaret Cannon "This strikes me as something new. Distant glints of bushes and crucibles, Moodie and Miller, but it's utterly not a spin-off from anything you've met before; it's the insecure, truth-hunting voice of a young Englishwoman in 17th-century Connecticut struggling with racial/marital taboos and the beyond-ugly face of institutionalized Puritanism. Anne Hoskins, narrating her story, is unpretentious, never built up past her rightful dimensions, and finally is as fresh and (see above) new as can be. "--Don Coles "In The Hedge, Anne McPherson wraps us authentically in the social fabric and the sensory historical detail of her seventeenth-century protagonist -- all the while prizing twenty-first century insights from her predicaments. Rooted in one woman's truth, this is a compelling and inspiring read. "--Maura Hanrahan, author of Shelagh's Brush